In Monday’s Washington Post, E.J. Dionne argues that Obama’s new budget and economic outlook have “transformed the terms of the nation’s debate.” He goes on: “The central issue in American politics now is whether the country should reverse a three-decade-long trend of rising inequality in incomes and wealth.” Every other issue, Dionne says, is “subsidiary.”
The problem I have with the argument is that commentators often fail to mention the many years of sacrifice–not to mention near poverty and bankruptcy in some cases–that entrepreneurs and business owners endured to get to where they are today. Any “inequality” comes from a government that is all too willing to hand money to those who take no affirmative steps to become more productive. We punish those who are willing to take risk, start a business, and now provide jobs for others, and we train people to live off the largesse of the government.
Equality of income is not a realistic or desirable goal (but some have discussed ways to achieve it). Those who make more money will continue to do so because they have the drive and determination not to be left behind. They will, as a result, pay more in taxes thanks to the new administration, but I doubt that they will curtail their efforts to start new businesses or pursue new goals. Although some have calculated that it does not pay to work more or harder, we should be encouraging people to do just that. In that way, individuals would take responsibility for their own financial future instead of waiting for the next unsuccessful stimulus.